BT plans for 'universal' broadband availability

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BT today unveiled plans to make high-speed broadband services available to almost all UK homes and businesses by the middle of next year.

BT today unveiled plans to make high-speed broadband services available to almost all UK homes and businesses by the middle of next year.

The telecoms group said it would fit ADSL broadband in 1,128 exchanges by summer 2005, making the services accessible to 99.6% of households and commercial premises.

Since July 2002, BT has been matching broadband investment to demand using a so-called registration scheme.

But it said it now had a clearer picture of demand, which enabled a more systematic, planned roll-out.

Under the plans, broadband will be available from every exchange in the UK except for the very smallest, which between them account for fewer than 100,000 premises.

BT said it would continue working with public sector and private organisations to find ways to deliver broadband to those exchanges.

It added that the certainty created by such an approach would help service providers with their longer term business planning and marketing activities.

Alison Ritchie, BT chief broadband officer, said: "Together with our plans to extend the reach of broadband from a local exchange, this takes us significantly closer to universal availability."

The roll-out programme will be announced in detail by the end of June and will help BT bring forward some published broadband switch-on dates.

The group said the demand registration scheme launched in July 2002 had been a major driver in its roll-out of broadband services.

More than 880,000 individual registrations had led to the upgrade of more than 2,000 exchanges.

The scheme will have taken broadband availability from 66% in July 2002 to more than 90% when all the triggered exchanges previously in the upgrade programme are completed, the company said.

During the last 18 months, BT has been trying to put broadband at the forefront of its strategy to modernise its business.

Earlier this year, the company said an 8% fall in turnover in its traditional fixed line operation had more than offset growth in key "new wave" technologies such as broadband.

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